This past weekend, I was privy to the experience that is a Mary Kay event. I came away with some weird, confused, but positive feelings. I’m still asking, why did I go? Here’s how it all started…
My fiance and I are planning for our wedding, but it’s not for another year and half. However, being the cosplayer I am, I am planning the daunting task of making my own wedding dress. Keep in mind, I’m completely un-traditional and have absolutely no use for the “princess” mentality that often takes over many brides. Anyway, a friend had a brilliant idea that I try on dresses first so I know the exact shape of what I will want to make. Not really knowing anything (literally nothing) about the wedding planning industry, I Googled “trying on wedding dresses” and signed up for an event at David’s Bridal. About a week later I received an email saying that I had won a free “Bridal Spa Package” with a facial, hand treatment and make-over. Well, it’s definitely not my thing, but why not? It’s free, at least.
Originally, I was expecting it to be an one-on-one experience. That was not the case. The room was semi-filled with about 20 different ladies from all different backgrounds socially, economically and all different shapes, sizes and looks. I found this encouraging, especially as I felt completely out of my element (almost any make-up you see on my cosplay photos is done by my wonderful girlfriends). My representative was spread across 5 women and would converse with each of us as we went through the two-hour event.
While the experience wasn’t the spa experience I thought it would be, I learned a few things I didn’t think I would. One particular thing that stood out to me was the history behind the Mary Kay product. Mary Kay Ash was a spectacular business woman. Mind you this is coming from me who didn’t even touch make-up until high school, and even then, very little. Despite my bias, what fascinated me about the mini synopsis of Mary Kay was that she became so frustrated with the zero advancement offered to her in her previous work experiences in sales that she decided to set out on her own entrepreneurial adventure. Little did she know that she would set a standard of sales relationship that, even today, few companies can achieve.
The core fundamental principal of Mary Kay’s company was surrounded by that magic “Golden Rule”. She believed that even in sales you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In both her previous jobs, Mary Kay was a spectacular sales person–not for how we recognize sales people today, but for the personal connections she made with her customers. Officially launched in 1963, Mary Kay created an incredible opportunity for women of all backgrounds to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. At the event, I was surprised to learn many of the sales directors had been anything from stay-at-home mothers to preschool teachers to biochemistry professionals! They decided to join Mary Kay for numerous reasons including: time, money, passion, drive, community, family etc. They didn’t see it as a simple make-up company, they saw it as a way to boost women’s socioeconomic status through entrepreneur opportunities.
I won’t lie when I say I’ve always had a very convoluted relationship with make-up. One the one hand, it fascinates me how much power and self-confidence it can give women. On the other hand, I find it disheartening when that “beauty” is more the make-up than the person underneath. It was my experience with Mary Kay that shifted my perception. These women weren’t about the “Hollywood” look, they wanted women to choose how they wanted to look. They asked everyone to apply the make-up themselves and the options I saw for the make-up palettes were all very natural and used to enhance features. I was surprised to learn at least a quarter of the women in the room did not wear make-up on a regular basis or have never even worn it.
While I will probably never attend another Mary Kay session in my life, it taught me some valuable lessons that I had not considered. Make-up and I will never be best buddies despite the fact that society seems to teach us otherwise; after all, I think the age-old saying would be more appropriately termed: “make-up is a woman’s best friend” rather than diamonds. I still believe it is ultimately better for women to feel empowered through their own natural looks than creating a superficial mask; however, I do recognize that this same mask can often give a woman the boost of confidence she needs. I would be a hypocrite if I did not admit I use cover-up on all my acne spots/scars (yes, I’m 26 and still have acne, it blows!) and use light eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara almost every day. For me, it is more a professional part of my attire. But I think that is the beauty behind what Mary Kay created. Her company was not necessarily focused on make-up and making women feel beautiful through her products; instead her focus was to create opportunities for women to advance in a company without the gender-gap pressure often found in other companies.
Have you ever attended a Mary Kay event? What were your thoughts? How, if at all, is make-up part of your daily routine and why?
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